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Surgeon General Says Here's How to Sleep Right

Dr. Murthy shares five key tips.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

As hosts of the Smartless podcast, actors Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Sean Hayes usually have people on who know more than them. That was perhaps never truer this week, when they invited the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy as a guest. He talked about Big Topics—climate change, the pandemic—but also a daily habit we could all improve. "I've never been somebody who's been consistent about sleep across my life," admitted Murthy. "There's been a kind of a lifelong struggle. I generally have operated as a night owl most of my life, but I have to get up very early, so that doesn't make for a good combination." His young son also sleeps with him, for comfort. "But half the night he's like punching me, kicking me. … just making sure I'm still there." So what should Dr. Murthy be doing better, and how can his advice work for you? He shared the ideas with the hosts. Read on for five key tips—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Sleep 7 to 9 Hours

woman sleeping in bed

"What I really should be doing is I should be sleeping somewhere around eight hours a night—seven to nine is what most people need," he said. "As all of us know health is deeply intertwined with culture: what we eat, how active we are, how much we sleep. These are rooted in cultural norms. When I was training in medicine for example, there was a culture in medicine that strong people didn't need sleep, that the less you slept, the more you just powered through a tough call night on no sleep, the stronger you were. That is not helpful to have a culture that supports unhealthy practices like that," he has said in the past.


Sleep at a Consistent Time

Happy girl waking up in the morning turning off the alarm clock in her bedroom

"I should be sleeping at a consistent time each night and I should be keeping distractions away from me when I sleep like phones all the time," said Murthy. 

RELATED: Surgeon General Just Issued This COVID Warning


Prioritize Sleep Hygiene

Asian Caucasian teen girl reading book in bed at night with yellow lamp light on walls

"I haven't prioritized" sleep hygiene, admitted Murthy. Arnett does. "Admiral, and I'm sorry, I hate to pull rank on you, literally," he said, "but I'm like a field marshal of sleep over here because once I put the kids to bed about…. 9, 9:30, I'm in bed, I read a little bit—old school, actual book, I put my device away—and I go to sleep and it's very important. My sleep is very, very important to me…And I'm just saying that, because I want to flex that I have better sleep hygiene than the surgeon general. And these are things you don't often get to do."


"Get Yourself in the Right Place"

smiling couple relaxing in bed with eyes closed, breathing air, stress relief on weekend or vacation, woman lying with hands behind the head after waking up, doing morning exercises or yoga

"Get yourself in the right place," agreed Murthy. "Like when you start sleeping. Because our minds are just like going a thousand miles an hour and a thousand directions. Right? And like how to like quiet in our mind and calm our minds."

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Just Said "Be Careful" of Doing This


How to Stay Safe Out There

Young woman taking a vaccine from her doctor.

Sleeping right can improve your immune system, never more important than during this terrible pandemic. Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more
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